In the past couple of weeks, three very significant anthologies have been released.
All have disparate themes yet all contain some of the sharpest, most powerful genre writing being done today. They would be worth your attention at any price, but the fact that each is available in eBook format for a very modest cost is only added incentive for you to seek them out.
DEVILS NEST is a collection of eight stories set in Nebraska of the 1880s. Most of these stories are centered around a drifter named John Coburn, who is also known as The Peregrine (a traveler or wanderer). There is a sense of mystery, perhaps even a trace of mysticism about Coburn. He is good with a gun, although not a gunslinger per se`, and he also keeps a Ponca knife in his boot for tight situations when a surprise edge can mean the difference between life and death.
It is upon returning to his hometown of Red Horizon and finding it obliterated that The Peregrine's real journey begins … a search for answers on the harsh frontier and, ultimately, a hoped-for reunion with any surviving family members. Richard Prosch's writing is spare yet vivid in its descriptions of place and characters and his plot twists take familiar territory and gives it a distinct spin that is all his own. The informative "In Old Nebraska" introduction by Ron Scheer provides a solid foundation for the stories that follow.
THE LOST CHILDREN is a collection of 30 stories that is noteworthy for two reasons: First, the quality and theme of the stories are powerful and important; Second, the proceeds from this undertaking all go to two worthwhile charities—PROTECT (The National Association to Protect Children @ http://www.protect.org/) and Children 1st Scotland @ www.children1st.org.uk). If you are unfamiliar with either of these organizations you should follow the links and check them out.
The collection of stories presented here came about as a challenge issued by editors Thomas Pluck and Fiona Johnson on Ron Earl Phillip's (the third editor of this anthology) Flash Fiction Friday website. Pledges by Pluck and Johnson for each story submitted resulted in an initial $600 being generated for these worthy causes. The idea for this follow-up anthology soon materialized and THE LOST CHILDREN is the result. The haunting cover by Sarah Bennett Pluck and Danielle Tunstall instantly sets the tone and the flash fiction-style stories that follow are equally haunting and powerful and as painfully timely as today's headlines. The stories are not pleasant and few punches are pulled, but the message driven home again and again demands to be heard: The abuse and neglect of our young is not only horrific and damaging to them as individuals but, unchecked, it threatens the fabric of our souls and our future as a so-called civilized society.
BEAT TO A PULP: HARDBOILED presents (fittingly) 13 tales of mayhem, murder, betrayal, and brutality. All the good stuff. Lean, gritty prose from a wide range of authors telling tales set against a wide range of backdrops and set-ups, this is the kind of entertainment we used to get from the best of the old pulp magazines. And why expect anything less when it comes from editor/contributor David Cranmer, aided this time out by Scott D. Parker, also doing double duty as contributor/co-editor? Cranmer's Beat To A Pulp web magazine consistently—and to increasing praise and recognition—presents these kind of tales on a weekly basis.
Full disclosure: One of the tales in this collection is by some character named Dundee. The only thing I'll add beyond that is that I'm proud to be part of the line-up David and Scott have assembled here.
The price is right, the stories are righteous. You won't be disappointed.
With winter weather and snowbound days just around the corner (or already here, in some places) it's a good time to start stocking up on your reading supplies and you can't miss with any or all of these terrific anthologies.
Persevere — WD